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Akwasi Abrefah

Area(s) of Expertise
Degrees / Education
B.S., Stanford University, 2015

Akwasi Papa Abrefah is a steelpan instructor, performer, and band director based in the Bay Area. He was born in Oakland, California and raised in Richland, WA where, at the age of 9, he started playing steelpan, known commonly as steel drums in the United States. Through middle school and high school, he traveled around the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. playing with bands OK 2 Botay and Bram Bratá before coming to Stanford where he continued with Cardinal Calypso.

Since 2013, Abrefah has participated with competition bands around the world including the Philadelphia Pan Stars for Brooklyn Panorama in New York, NY (2016 and 2018), Ebony Steelband for Notting Hill Panorama in London, England (2019), as well as multiple steel orchestras in the birthplace of steelpan: Trinidad and Tobago. In the largest and most prestigious of all the Panorama competitions in the world, the one held in Port of Spain, Trinidad, he has participated in the Large Band category with Silver Stars Steel Orchestra (2013, 2015-2019, 2022-2023), as well as the Medium Band category with Pamberi (2019).

Since graduating from Stanford January, 2015 with a B.S. in Earth Systems, he has continued to develop the student ensemble Cardinal Calypso, help bring world renowned steelpan artists to campus, assist the development of artistic youth in Richmond at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, direct the Bay Area's only steelpan ensemble for senior citizens in Bayview, learn more about building and tuning steelpans, and instruct students of all ages around the Bay Area in steelpan and other instruments.

Akwasi also has some experience with bass guitar, guitar, and various other percussion instruments. He is ever grateful the turn of the millennium brought an end to his parents' futile resistance to percussion lessons. Other interests include soccer, travel, cooking, sustainable design, and community building, most of which can also be connected to his love for steelpan.